Category Archives: Headlines

Disco Derby Cancelled


February 2010 Gardiner Salmon Derby Canceled
> Gardiner, WA – December 18, 2009 – The February 2010 salmon derby on
> Discovery Bay has been canceled, due to an unresolved conflict over
> to the derby. Since 1973, a core group of Gardiner residents ran this
> fundraising event each Presidents Weekend. Early derbies focused on
> Gardiner boat ramp, but they expanded in recent years to additional
> in
> Port Townsend and Sequim. In 2009, over 800 tickets were sold, and
> $16,500 in prizes were awarded. Derby proceeds were contributed to
> Gardiner’s local fire department – over $50,000 since 2006.
> The conflict is over who has the right to run future derbies. In 2009,
> Gardiner residents petitioned to change their emergency response
> leaving Jefferson County Fire District #5 in September to join Clallam
> County Fire District #3, with its new fire station in nearby Blyn.
> (Gardiner
> remains part of Jefferson County.) Gardiner volunteers had expected to
> continue running the annual salmon derby, but this was contested by
> Jefferson County Fire District #5. The matter remained unresolved in
> December, so the Gardiner derby committee has been forced to cancel
> 2010
> event.
> Dan Tatum, a major figure in all recent derbies, is disappointed. “We
> apologize to all our loyal supporters that we couldn’t resolve this
> situation. And we apologize to the volunteers who already did so much
> this year. We should have dealt with this last summer, but we never
> expected
> the problem because the derby association was a local organization
> independent of the fire district.”
> Local restaurants, merchants, and hotels will no doubt miss the
> traffic normally generated by the event. But Tatum thinks the biggest
> impact
> will be in Gardiner. “It just won’t be the same here without our
> The
> same neighbors and local businesses have been coming together each
> We
> drew families of participants from all over the region. The tradition
> spans
> three generations. It’s a waste.” When asked if a derby would be held
> 2011, Tatum shrugged. “Who knows? Running a derby takes a huge amount
> volunteer work and personal contact. Legal headaches have made that
> impossible.”
> The derby had been a feature of the Northwest Marine Trade
> annual Northwest Salmon Derby Series. Since other regional derbies
> expressed interest in taking over the Presidents Day slot, the future
> any
> Discovery Bay derby may be moot. Whatever happens, competitive
> anglers in 2010 will have to be satisfied by impromptu fishing
contests at

Guide/NWS Pen Finds Post-storm Steelies In The Chetco


Following two big winter storms during the second half of December, steelhead fishing is heating up on Oregon’s Chetco River, already producing the kind of results normally seen during peak season.

“The Chetco dropped back into shape today after blowing out Sunday, and there were fish spread out throughout the lower river,” guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing said Wednesday. “We got bites in just about every good run, and hooked five fish. The biggest one was 17 pounds.”
Fishing was also good Friday before the river blew out over the weekend.
“Since a good push of fish arrived last week, there should be decent numbers of steelhead clear up to the South Fork by now,” Martin said.
More than half of the catch so far has been wild fish, an indication of a strong run this season.
“The best fishing has been from the Piling Hole down, but it’s worthwhile to drift from Ice Box or even higher,” Martin said.
With relatively high water Wednesday, Martin’s clients side-drifted the edges of the river.
“We used sploosh balls combined with five-shot slinkies to get down quickly, and used slightly larger-than-normal roe clusters,” Martin said. “All the strikes came on eggs cured in Pautzke’s natural-colored BorxOFire.”
Steelhead fishing typically peaks in late January or early February on the Chetco, so anglers appear to be in store for a great season, Martin said.
The steelhead are averaging a solid 8 to 12 pounds, with fish in the high teens already showing up.
For current reports, check out or call (206) 388-8988.

Whidbey Hunt Ban Heads To Court

Waterfowlers will have their day in court when a suit over the ban on shooting at Deer Lagoon on southwest Whidbey Island is heard on New Year’s Eve.

According to The Whidbey Examiner, the Washington Waterfowl Association and a local resident have sued the county, claiming the  commissioners’ decision earlier this fall was “abitrary and capricious.”

Writer Justin Burnett reports, “It also claims that the commissioners based their decision on hearsay, having no direct evidence that hunting has ever posed a danger to people, pets or property.”

Adds a South Whidbey Record article picked up by the Seattle PI:

The lawsuit says county commissioners adopted the restrictions on shooting at Deer Lagoon — previously a popular waterfowl hunting spot — without conducting ballistic studies that would support the ban.

The suit also says the county sheriff’s office has no records that birdshot has ever jeopardized people, domestic animals or property near Deer Lagoon.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the ordinance that created the ban “invalid,” and demands that it be repealed.

Burnett’s article details more of the background on the issue, which we blogged about earlier this year.

Northwest OR Steelhead Report

With a little time off over the Christmas holidays, you may find steelhead on Oregon’s Northwest Coast.

Here’s an update on the action, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

ALSEA RIVER: Winter steelhead angling has been hit or miss so far this season. A few pulses of fish have moved in with anglers having some success throughout the river by boat and bank angling. This week is looking to have favorable fishing conditions.


BIG CREEK: Winter steelhead fishing improved after recent rains. Fish are available throughout the stream below the hatchery. This small stream is a good bet during this part of the season. Bobber and jig, spinners, or baits drifted along the bottom all will produce fish.

GNAT CREEK: Winter steelhead fishing is improving as water levels have risen and temperatures warmed up. This is a good early season, small stream opportunity. There is good access near the hatchery. Look for pockets of holding water to find fish. Spinners often draw strikes in these areas. Bobber and jig or small baits drift fished will produce some fish also.

KILCHIS RIVER: Winter steelhead are being caught, particularly in the lower river. A few late chinook are also in the river, but many are close to spawning and should be released. Drift fishing is the most productive when flows are up. Side drifting or pulling plugs from boats has produced fish lately. Use bobber and eggs or shrimp in the deeper holes if targeting chinook.

KLASKANINE RIVER AND NORTH FORK KLASKANINE: A few early winter steelhead are available in the system. Fishing has improved as more fish enter the system and with better angling conditions. Good access is available near the hatchery on the North Fork. Use light gear and approach holes carefully to avoid spooking fish.

NECANICUM RIVER: A few early winter steelhead are available in the lower river. Fish will spread out more with better flows. Drift boaters should be able to float the river now. Bobber and jig or bait is very effective on this stream.

NEHALEM RIVER AND NORTH FORK NEHALEM RIVER: Good numbers of winter steelhead are moving into the north fork. Best fishing has been around the hatchery and the lower river, with some fish being caught in the mile or so just above the hatchery. The entire Nehalem Basin is closed to chinook angling for the remainder of 2009.

NESTUCCA RIVER AND THREE RIVERS: Steelhead angling is fair. More fish are moving into the system. Three Rivers is the best bet until the main Nestucca clears. Drift fishing on the bottom will probably be the most productive until flows recede. Plunking in the travel lanes on the main river is another option. A few early hatchery winter steelhead have been trapped and recycled from Cedar Creek Hatchery. Chinook angling in the river is slow. Fish the deeper holding water low in the system for best chances of hooking bright fish.

SALMON RIVER: Native winter steelhead typically return from December through March. Fair to good numbers of wild winter steelhead should return this season. Good fishing conditions are expected this coming week.

SILETZ RIVER: Winter steelhead angling has been slow to fair so far this season. A mixed bag of fish can be caught this time of year consisting of winter and summer steelhead and possibly a coho salmon. Angling from boat or bank can produce good catches on the right days. Good fishing conditions are expected for the coming week.


SIUSLAW RIVER: Steelhead angling is slow to fair with catch rates being hit or miss. Recent rain events and a good weather forecast should make for favorable angling conditions for the coming week. Anglers should focus on the mid to lower river during the early part of the run.

TILLAMOOK BAY: Angling for sturgeon should be fair to good with increased river flows. Concentrate on the channel edges on the outgoing tides or the first part of the incoming, with sand shrimp the preferred bait.

TRASK RIVER: Steelhead angling is beginning to improve as a few more fish enter the river. Fall chinook are available, but angling is slow. Some bright fish are being caught, but many are dark and should be released. Construction of a new boat slide at the Cedar Creek launch site was completed earlier this fall and is ready for use. Contact ODFW in Tillamook at 503-842-2741 for details.

WILSON RIVER: Steelhead angling should be good when the river clears. Fish will move through and begin to spread out. Fish higher in the system first, then lower as the river drops and clears. Use brighter color lures and slightly larger baits while the river has some color. Look to the edges of the current for holding fish. Chinook angling is slow, but a few new fish moved into the system with recent rains. Many fish are close to spawning and should be released.

YAQUINA RIVER: Steelhead angling is slow to fair in Big Elk Creek but should start to pick up any time. River conditions should be good through the weekend.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon, Christmas Edition

Ho-ho-ho, Merry Fishmas, Oregon anglers. Here’s what worth chasing around the state, according to ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:



  • Winter steelhead are starting to appear in many rivers and creeks, including the Chetco, Coos, Coquille, Rogue, Umpqua and Tenmile. Look for fishing to pick up after some good rain helps get fish moving.
  • Don’t overlook trout fishing in many area lakes and reservoirs. Fishing has been good in Emigrant Reservoir, Lake Selmac and several Coos County lakes.


  • Large brood trout were released this week in several Willamette Valley ponds, including Junction City, Walter Wirth, Walling, Mt. Hood and West Salish. The fish are 4- and 5-year-old rainbow trout from ODFW’s Roaring River hatchery and range in size from 8 to 18 pounds.
  • The onset of warmer weather and precipitation should provide a boost to winter steelhead fishing in the lower Willamette, Clackamas and Sandy rivers.


  • There still are good numbers of summer steelhead in the Deschutes River upstream of Maupin, and recent warm weather should make them more active.
  • While flows area still high, some bright winter steelhead should be showing up in the Hood River soon.


  • Steelhead fishing on the Umatilla River should be good this week as water temperatures have warmed and river flows have increased.


  • Murray Reservoir: Ice fishing for trout is good. Fish are averaging 12 inches.
  • Thief Valley Reservoir: Fishing is good for 15-18 inch trout. Ice is on the reservoir but may not be thick enough. Use caution. The dirt road that follows the reservoir has been upgraded to provide good access to the Powder River below the dam. Public access only goes approximately 1,000 ft below the dam. Please respect private property and remain within 1,000 ft of the dam.
  • Unity Reservoir: Ice fishing for trout is good. Fish are 12-14 inches.


  • Bottom fishing is good when ocean conditions permit. Ling cod should begin moving into shallower waters to spawn. Divers may find success spearing along rocky jetties for ling cod and black rockfish.
  • Fishing for cabezon reopens Jan. 1. Cabezon retention by sport boat anglers is not allowed effective Sept. 12 through Dec. 31 because the ocean boat harvest cap of 15.8 metric tons has been reached. Cabezon have a high survival rate when released carefully. Shore anglers, including shore-based divers, may continue to keep cabezon.
  • Recreational and commercial clam harvesting is closed on the north Oregon coast, from Clatsop Beach north of the Necanicum River to the Columbia River. Clam harvesting remains open south of the Necanicum river to the California border.
  • Mussel harvesting is open on the entire Oregon coast, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. The consumption of whole, recreationally-harvested scallops is not recommended. However, coastal scallops are not affected by toxins when only the adductor muscle is eaten.
  • A series of minus tides begins Dec. 28 in the late afternoon. Each day the minus tide will be about 50 minutes later, requiring lanterns for harvesting clams. The series ends Jan. 4 around 9 p.m., depending on where you are on the Oregon coast.
  • Ocean crabbing opened Dec. 1. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

New Year’s Razor Clam Digs A Go

I remember the last time I was on the Washington coast over New Year’s.

Well, actually I don’t remember it very well. A lot of champagne was consumed — perhaps a local record — that evening in Ocean Shores.

But I recall that at one point we were running around on the beach. Where there were clams. In the dark.

Which brings us to this press release from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife:

Clam diggers today got the go-ahead to proceed with a four-day razor-clam dig on Washington’s coastal beaches over the New Year’s holiday.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) gave final approval for the evening digs after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams on all five coastal beaches were safe to eat.

Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch beaches will be open for clam digging Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1.

All of those beaches, with the exception of Kalaloch, also will be open Saturday, Jan. 2. One beach – Twin Harbors – will open for a fourth evening of digging Sunday, Jan. 3.

All digs will be held on evening tides, with digging restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. The National Park Service approved the two-day dig at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.

“New Year’s razor clam digs are very popular,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We’re pleased that the tides allowed us to offer another holiday dig this year. For safety’s sake, make sure to check the weather and surf conditions before heading out.”

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin also reinforced taking night dig safety precautions, especially at Kalaloch.

“Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions,” Gustin said. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various options are available on the WDFW website at

Additional digging dates in 2010 will be announced in January, following review of harvest data, Ayres said.

Digging days and tides during the opening are:

  • Thursday, Dec. 31 (6:16 p.m. -1.1 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Friday, Jan. 1 (7:01 p.m. -1.8 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Saturday, Jan. 2 (7:45 p.m. -1.6 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:29 p.m. -1.2 ft.) Twin Harbors

Beaches scheduled to open are:

  • Long Beach , which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach , which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach , which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach , which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach , which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Advice From Angler Who Almost Bit It

“I am an idiot,” the subject line of madcapmag’s post today reads.

“I ignored my own advice and the promise that I made to myself that I’d never do anything stupid to catch some fish. Unfortunately, my lust for steel almost meant the end,” the angler writes.

The post, over on Gamefishin, details how madcapmag decided to cross a side channel of the Snoqualmie River near Tokul Creek, a stretch wadeable in the past, but not this morning.

And despite repeated mental warnings, slower going than usual, swifter water and even a near-dunking, Madcapmag continued across — and went down, losing two rods while being pushed downstream 15 yards or more.

“I would say I’m fairly safe. I do push some boundaries, but please, take my advice. No fish is EVER worth dying for. As soon as the first warning goes off, heed it. Don’t wait for another warning,” the angler writes.

The missing rods are described as a pair of 9-foot-6 St. Croix rods matched with Daiwa spinning and baitcasting reels.

It echoes something we ran in our November issue, an article by Jim McMillen about floating the Wynoochee River blind. He ran his drifter over two cottonwoods across the main river — and then hit the third dead on.

Update On Blue Mtns. Steelhead Management

Just got off the phone awhile ago with Glen Mendell, a state fisheries biologist in Southeast Washington. He says that in January anglers should watch for word on the dates and locations of one or two public meetings on the future of steelhead management in the Blue Mountains.

He’s rewriting harvest plans for rivers around the region — a process that began earlier this year but was sidelined as other brush fires came up — and says they will blend genetic plans required by the Feds with revisions to state hatchery practices.

“It may affect the number of fish coming back in the future,” Mendell admits.

But he claims that that’s only half the story.

While managers must address ESA requirements to recover listed wild stocks of steelhead, they must also balance that with angler harvest as part of mitigation for installation of the four lower Snake River dams.

“You can’t just do one or the other,” Mendell says.

The reason to watch this one closely is that the Ronde is one of the state’s best steelhead streams, putting out thousands upons thousands of summer-runs for fly guys, bait chuckers and plug pullers from September through April. Preliminary and final estimated catch stats from WDFW show that over 55,000 hatchery fish have been hauled ashore here over the past 13 seasons.

Season       Total catch
1996-97    3,378
1997-98    4,511
1998-99    1,440
1999-00    2,077
2000-01    5,755
2001-02    7,959
2002-03    5,842
2003-04    4,910
2004-05    4,661
2005-06    4,495
2006-07    3,062
2007-08    4,040
2008-09    3,343

It’s rather ironic, but part of the problem according to Mendell is too many hatchery steelhead returning the 600 or so miles from saltwater to the Ronde. Only 1,500 are required back to Cottonwood Creek, about 2 miles upstream from the Highway 129 bridge and Boggan’s Oasis, but far more than that have been coming back.

They may be spawning in the wild, diluting the genes of native steelhead in the Basin. And while the Ronde’s hatchery stock is known as “Wallowa” fish, they’re a composite of A- and B-runs from all over the Snake River basin, collected in the early 1980s in the lower river rather than in the Ronde itself.





Asked point blank if the plan rewrite means the end of steelheading on the Grande Ronde and other Blue Mountain streams, Mendell replies, “No, no. I don’t think there’s any chance we’re going to shut down all fishing.”

But he went on: “There are some places that may get shut down or limited, but we won’t know until the end of the process.”

That process includes the rewrite, as well as working with local tribes and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and then presenting options to the public, he says.

“Do you have any ideas?” Mendell asks of steelheaders and the public. “We do want to get public input. We’d like to have them attend.”

Springer Breakdown, River By River

Just to recap, here are the official preseason forecasts for most of the Columbia River system’s 2010 spring Chinook returns:

Columbia (above Bonneville): 470,000

Select (SAFE) Areas: 4,100

Cowlitz River*: 12,500

Kalama River*: 900

Lewis River*: 6,000

Willamette River: 62,700

Sandy River: 3,700

Wind River*: 14,000

Drano Lake*: 28,900

Klickitat River*: 4,500

Snake: 272,000

Yakima*: 16,600

Upper Columbia: 57,300

* Note: Predicted returns to the trib’s mouth.

Sound Crabbing To Close After Jan. 2


Puget Sound marine areas currently open for recreational winter crabbing will close at sunset Jan. 2, after which all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have 13 days to report their winter catch.

(The affected areas include 4, 5, 9, 10 and 13 in the western and central Strait of Juan de Fuca; Admiralty Inlet; Elliott Bay and the salt waters between Seattle and Bremerton; and Puget Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.)

State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Jan. 15 – even if they did not catch any crab. With the end of the winter crab season, which runs from Sept. 8 to Jan. 2, all Puget Sound marine areas will be closed to recreational crabbing until summer 2010.

Sport crabbers should be aware that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2010 crab endorsement, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.

“The 2009 winter crab fishing season is the first one for which fines will be issued, but we’re hoping everyone turns in their catch reports and avoids the penalty altogether,” Childers said.

“By submitting their catch data, crabbers play an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery,” he said. “We need to hear from everyone who was issued a winter catch card – including from those who didn’t catch any crab.”

To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 3-15 at .

Sport crabbers who file their catch reports by the Jan. 15 deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species during the 2010-11 season.